From the Podium

The Nature Boy Ric Flair, 16 time world champion, returned to WWE television this week in his home town of Charlotte, NC after a 6 month absence to begin his farewell tour as an active wrestler. Anybody who has ever been a fan of professional wrestling or sports entertainment in any era will tell you that Ric Flair is in an elite pantheon of the absolute greatest professional wrestlers that have ever lived. After 30 years of traveling and performing all over the world, the great Ric Flair is having his last run.

The reason for his 6 month absence was disagreements with WWE creative over the way in which he would end his wrestling career. At last they came to an agreement to use an idea that was actually pitched by Stone Cold Steve Austin: Ric Flair will wrestle until he loses a match and then his career is over. In my opinion it is a really classy and worthy way to go out of the business. The current WWE performers, whether they have wrestled Flair before or not, will put Ric over in a string of emotional matches because Flair's career is on the line every time. Then finally at Wrestlemania, someone will be better than Ric Flair and Flair's time comes to an end. Any professional wrestler with any passion will tell you that it is your duty to put someone else over in your last match so the business is enriched long term. It is the only respectful way to go out. A few have gone out at the very top because they deserved it, others went out with a meaningless win because of ego and backstage politics, and that one guy refused to put someone else over and had to be tricked. Flair is setting up the whole angle to go out with a defeat in his final match, but will thrillingly win match after match leading up to the inevitable defeat. That's an exit worthy of Ric Flair.

So the only question is who will eventually pin Ric Flair in his final match? It is inevitable that it will happen at Wrestlemania, the night after Flair is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It has to be someobody who is already established so he can be pushed as Ric Flair's successor. And to be perfectly honest, with John Cena injured and unable to perform at this year's Wrestlemania, Flair's last match is the biggest storyline on RAW. I'll tell you this much: the guy who is going to win the main event at Wrestlemania this year is Triple H. I'll give 10,000:1 odds that anyone else wins that main event match for the WWE championship this year if Triple H is healthy. He's due for a big win at Wrestlemania and can definitely carry the company. If Cena's hurt, the only two guys I could see losing to him in a world title match are Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Wouldn't that be something if Flair continued this last run all the way to a 17th world championship and then finally lost the title to Triple H at Wrestlemania? Triple H would be more over as a heel than at any time ever in his career and could then have big time, heated main event feuds with all of Flair's faithful: Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Batista, and finally a returning John Cena. Whoever pins Ric Flair is going to be booed unmercifully by the fans so a face like Shawn Michaels isn't going to be the guy who puts Flair out. It needs to be somebody that the fans will hate way harder than Randy Orton. Orton is definitely not good enough to be champion for a year like Cena, so I'd bet on heavy title movement between now and Wrestlemania. HHH-Flair is your main event. That's how the Ric Flair story was meant to end, the only end Flair would ever agree to and Triple H would ever concoct, and it's destined to be a legendary match that a lot of people will pay to see. They're the best that there ever was, and as J.R. once said, whether you love them or hate them, it's really irrelevant.


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